You knew this was coming, didn’t you? It is now Fall, and you just knew I would be featuring an autumnal version of my favorite cocktail, the Margarita. Right? Seriously. You did, didn’t you?
As you would guess, I was inspired after our visit to the apple orchard last weekend. It was a gorgeous day and we walked away not only with doughnuts fresh-from-the-fryer, but with fresh chilled apple cider to drink as well as a big jug for later. Immediately, I had to develop this special Marg, Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita based on the “formula” for my Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita. I had to because I was just itching to whip them up!
After you get to know me, I must confess…I’m fairly predictable. Even The Big Lug knew I was going to develop a sparkling version of my Apple Cider Margarita. Why? Because I tend to wax rhapsodic about my days working for Leone Wine & Imports when I was fresh out of high school, about a certain special sparkling apple cider, and how I had the chance to meet many local chefs and restaurant and bar owners as well as winery owners. I even had the opportunity to work a few trade shows which, for me, was more fun than actual work.
The Leone family knew how to party and I was often invited to “call on” (read: party) after work on Friday nights at many fine establishments. Our favorite stops were McFrock’s Tavern (sadly, no longer in existence…but, it was a gorgeous bar…click the link to see a photographic image on a postcard) and, located conveniently across the street, Steak & Ale, in Farmington Hills at Twelve Mile and Orchard Lake Roads (location closed during recent economic downturn). The dance floor is where we usually ended our night. The Steak & Ale had a killer dance floor. We girls kicked off our shoes and let loose. There were other favorites, too, to include the ever popular Ginopolis.
One of my fondest memories during my tenure with Leone Wine & Imports was meeting the President of St. Julian Winery, David Braganini. St. Julian Winery is Michigan’s oldest and largest winery and is based in Paw Paw, Michigan. When David came into town, there was always a tasting to sample new Michigan wines. And, cheeses and nibbles were brought over from “the food side” (Leone Foods) to make our tasting complete.
During one of David’s visits, he unveiled their new line of non-alcoholic sparkling juices. I was completely enamored with their Sparkling Apple Cider. The other item that was unveiled at the same time was their Sparkling White Grape Juice. In fact, I was so enamored with the sparkling cider that I bought a case of it to share with family and friends. (It’s true. I started concocting alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails at a young age.) Everyone loved the sparkling cider—whether used as a mixer or enjoyed virgin—especially my grandparents.
Because I was not yet of legal drinking age, I was able to buy the case with my employee discount. It was a fun perk because I often purchased cocktail mixes and brought them up when I visited my girlfriends at CMU (Central Michigan University) which, at that time, was our nation’s #1 party school. No lie. My girlfriends would shout upon my arrival, “Stacy’s here! Time to party!” My mother may or may not have missed her blender during those weekend trips up to Mount Pleasant. 😉
Well, to cut to the chase, I was disappointed when I could not find St. Julian’s Sparkling Apple Cider locally. I could only find the other items in the St. Julian sparkling juice line. When I visited the St. Julian site, the Sparkling Apple Cider was not listed. So sad! Bummed. I’m really bummed. I truly wanted to use it in my recipe for our Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita, and introduce it to you, because it was incredibly flavorful and full of bubbly effervescence.
The good news is that The Big Lug and I happened to find a nice Sparkling Apple Cider, as well as a Sparkling Apple Juice, to use and recommend in our recipe for Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita. Just scroll down to view the images in the Recommended Brands section following the recipe.
Just as I imagined, our Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita knocked our socks off! To be a true Marg, The Big Lug and I agree on a salted rim. It is a must. Sugar doesn’t do it for us. But, I have to tell you…I am totally smitten with the addition of fine-quality ground cinnamon (read: Penzeys) and freshly grated whole nutmeg in the pink Hawaiian sea salt we like to use. I mean, the combination of flavors, along with the cocktail which has a hint of ginger in it due to the ginger liqueur, made my skirt fly up! If you are a girl, and you love a good Marg, your skirt will fly up too. Guaranteed.
Honestly, I don’t even need to bestow all of the qualities that make our Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita wicked good. But, I will. For you, I will!
What makes our Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita wicked good? First, Cabo Wabo® Reposado is my #1 choice for the high-quality tequila. It never disappoints and always finishes smooth. Second, the orange liqueurs of choice are Cointreau® and Grand Marnier®. I simply could not make this Margarita without them. I love that extra citrus kick in addition to fresh squeezed lime juice which is so necessary in a true Margarita. Third, although optional, I like to add a splash of ginger liqueur. It makes this Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita truly shine.
For the bubbly action, select either sparkling apple cider or sparkling apple juice. The blend of flavors is sublime in this Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita. And, since you do not want to dilute them, go with the mini ice cubes made with apple cider or juice. They’re like little popsicle ice cubes and are enjoyable when your cocktail glass empties. Finally, the rim garnish…pink (red) Hawaiian sea salt, with fine-quality ground cinnamon and freshly grated whole nutmeg, is the cherry on top! Fer shure, fer shure.
Have a lovely Fall weekend, my friends! I will be back soon with a special apple cobbler (trust me on this, I tested this new method three times this past week) with a choice of two different toppings!
- For the Optional Rim & Cocktail Garnishes
- Pink sea salt, such as Alaea Red Hawaiian Sea Salt in Medium Grain, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon fine-quality ground cinnamon, such as Penzey’s
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
- Fresh lime wedges, to moisten cocktail glass rims
- Fresh red apple slices, halved, such as Cortland
- Fresh lime slices, halved
- For the Cocktail
- Ice for cocktail shaker
- 2 ounces (¼ cup) tequila, such as Cabo Wabo® Reposado
- ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Grand Marnier® Orange Cognac
- ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) orange liqueur, such as Cointreau®
- ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Domaine de Canton® Ginger Liqueur, optional
- 2 ounces (¼ cup) fresh apple cider
- ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
- ¼ ounce (1½ teaspoons) agave nectar
- 2 ounces (¼ cup) chilled sparkling apple cider (or sparkling apple juice)
- Ice for cocktail, such as apple cider or apple juice mini cubes, optional
- Special Equipment
- Cocktail shaker with strainer
- Chilled cocktail glasses
- Mini cube ice cube trays, for mini ice cubes, optional
- Rimmed shallow plates for rim garnish
Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.comCopyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.